A Day In The Life Of ...

A Day In The Life Of Alan Kastner – An Inspirational iPhone Photographer

Welcome to our very exciting new column on theappwhisperer.com. This section entitled ‘A day in the life of …’ and this is where we’ll be taking a look at some hugely influential, interesting and accomplished individuals in the mobile photography world. People that we think you will love to learn more about.

This is the thirty-ninth installment of the series, you can read the others here if you have missed them so far. Today we are featuring Alan Kastner. Alan has participated in roughly a dozen exhibitions over the past year. Of particular note, he was one of six iPhoneographers featured in Latitudes International Photography Festival 2012 in Huelva, Spain from February 13 thru April 1. A history-making occasion, the exhibition saw iPhoneography shown on a museum level together with renowned photographers, including those from Magnum Photos.

Alan is based in Tokyo, Japan although originally from Montreal, Canada. He has lived in Tokyo now for 23 years after extending his original 2 year research fellowship from the Japanese government. He works as a freelance writer, translator and branding consultant for a number of local ad agencies and production houses.

Alan’s ongoing struggle to make sense of his environment and daily life drives his passion for breathing dynamism and depth into the mundane. He is known for his fascination with geometry, form, motion and the perpetual sense of slight imbalance that keeps us on our toes.

Check out the full interview below…

You can find app all the links at the end of this article. We have also included details of Exhbitions and Achievements that Alan has been part of, at the end of this article too.

(If you would like to be interviewed for our new ‘A day in the life of …’ section, just send an email to [email protected], and we’ll get it set up.)



First Things First…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘A Kyoto Moment’ – Apps used: Camera+, Photo fx, Filterstorm

JC – Let’s start at the beginning of the day, how does your day start?

AK – I normally wake about 7 AM and head straight to the kitchen to brew a fresh pot of coffee. Fresh beans ground immediately prior to hand dripping. I work at home, so one of two courses is what follows. The more normal pattern is to do a quick round of the social media sites, work for a while, and then squeeze in an hour’s stretching before clients begin calling. The other, which will not be mentioned beyond this point, is to go right to work and continue working most of the day. That’s when life as a freelancer is busy.

Magic Hour…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Arcos’ – Apps used: Cameramatic, Filterstorm


JC – Do you like to head out and take photographs early on?

It is something I enjoy, but only manage from time to time. I’d love to get a dog, if only to turn morning constitutionals into a daily event.

Photographer vs Mobile Photographer…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘AGO Go’ – Apps used: Camera+, Photo fx, Filterstorm


JC – How did the transition from traditional photographer to iPhoneographer develop? (pardon the pun)

AK – It occurred quite naturally. After working with film & paper for many years, I began exploring Photoshop and digital imaging over 20 years ago. I adopted digital cameras into my life when the first consumer models came available around 1995 and stepped up to a DSLR in 2003. Somewhat jaded by big glass, I didn’t really expect much from my first iPhone when I bought a 3G in 2008. I took the odd snapshot and bought a couple of alternative capture apps at that time. It was only after I upgraded to the 3GS that I started seeing the potential. Concurrently, the editing apps were becoming more plentiful and more powerful. The iPhone 4 started to give me results that I really liked. I was hooked on iPhoneography as soon as I gave into a friend’s suggestion to buy Hipstamatic in the first days of 2011.

New Apps…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Belly of the whale’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Hipstamatic (John S + Claunch 72), Autostitch, Filterstorm


JC – Do you like to download new iPhoneography apps regularly?

AK – I download whenever I discover a new app that seems to offer potential. That happened with frightening regularity for the first while, but occurs less often these days. With so many apps already on my phone, it can be cumbersome to employ more than the core set I’ve grown accustomed to in my workflow.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Nenotsu’ – Apps used: 6×6, Filterstorm


JC – How often do you update your existing apps?

AK – Daily.

Location, Location, Location…


Copyright Image – ‘Fly the Spinnaker!’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Filterstorm


JC – Where’s your favorite place in the world for a shoot?

AK – Wherever I can find interesting light and compelling subject matter. 🙂

Tools Of The Trade…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Ginza Goes Gooey’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Filterstorm


JC – Do you also use iPhoneography tool apps, such as The Photographers Ephermis?

AK – I rely on many years of experience and my gut instincts to know when the light will work in my favour.

Favorite Apps…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Todai Haiku’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Filterstorm


JC – What are your favorite, at the moment, iPhoneography apps?

AK – For capture, I tend to use 6×6, Pro Camera, Hisptamatic, Lomora 2, Cameramatic, or Slow Shutter Cam. I’ve also been dabbling some with 645 Pro and Instant110.

For processing, my go-to apps include Filterstorm, Snapseed, Photoforge 2, King Camera, Genius Scan, Autostitch Panorama, Superimpose, and Photo fx.

Some of the many others I hit on from time to time include Iris Photo Suite, SquareReady, Touch/Retouch, VSCO Cam, Simply B&W, Dynamic Light, DXP, ScratchCam FX etc.




Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Metro Man’ – Apps used: Cameramatic, Filterstorm


JC – Where do you like to upload your photographs? Flickr, Instagram?

AK – My main “workshop” is Flickr, (where my user ID is “tabiwallah”.) I started on Flickr and continue to enjoy the diversity and the interaction there. I’m also very fond of the community on IPA (iPhoneart.com). I post a single image to Instagram most days of the week, as I like networking with many folks on that platform. In addition, I continue to upload to EyeEm and tumblr, and to 500px to a lesser degree.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – On the outside, looking inside – Apps used: Hipstamatic (John S + AO BW), Filterstorm


JC – Do you take photographs with your iPhone everyday?

AK – I try to shoot something most every day, even when too busy to get out to locations I’d really like to visit.

Favorite Subjects


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘In the shadows of the night… ‘- Apps used: Instant110, Simply B&W, Autostitch, Filterstorm, Photo Toaster


JC – What are your favorite subjects?

AK – I try not to narrow down the possibilities, but anybody who knows me knows I have a soft spot for geometry, lines, motion and, above all, mood. This results in a good number of architectural shots, as well as of people in geometry or in motion.

Top Five Tips…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Throughout the NIght’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, DXP, ScratchCam, Decim8, Filterstorm, Photoforge2, Photo Toaster


JC – What are you top five tips for iPhoneography?

(1) Take the time to learn the basics of (traditional) photography. You know, how to make effective use of light and composition.
(2) Shoot lots and learn from the results.
(3) Don’t hesitate to experiment, to take on new challenges, and to break the rules and think outside the box.
(4) Learn to be critical of your own work and edit (in the traditional sense of the word) before posting.
(5) Have fun!!



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Damiel on the Right’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, Filterstorm, Pixlr-o-matic


JC – Do you edit images on your iPhone or do you prefer to do that on a desktop/laptop?

AK – I capture with and process exclusively on the iPhone, because I find the highly personal aspect of doing all the editing in the palm of one’s hand an intimate and satisfying journey that in many ways transcends the darkroom or Photoshop experience. What I’ll refer to as “desktop intervention” changes the results. Mixed media work is fine and there are plenty of places to post such work; but it differs from iPhoneography in my book.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Lost in Transportation’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, DXP, Filterstorm, Pixlr-o-matic


JC – Do you enjoy videography with your iPhone?

AK – No. Not beyond capturing the odd clip for fun.

The Future Of Mobile Photography…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Shadows of Sevilla’ – Apps used: Cameramatic, Filterstorm


JC – Where do you see the future of iPhoneography?

AK – I think it goes without saying that both hardware and the apps (software) will continue evolving and delivering greater levels of performance. With that evolution will come ever-greater potential to create more freely and produce at higher resolutions. Unless Apple significantly changes the manner with which we shoot with the iPhone, the medium will continue to exist as we know it.




Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Meditation on Architectural Possibilities’ – Apps used: Camera+, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, Tiny PLanet Photos, Filtertorm


JC – What do you think is the most popular area of iPhoneography?

AK – I don’t see much point in venturing about what area is most popular. There is perhaps more pressure than necessary placed on people to pursue one path or another to the exclusion of all others, and as many arguments used to suggest why they should do so. I’d suggest that all genres within the medium are popular to the concerned participants or audience, and it makes most sense to pursue the one you find personally satisfying or rewarding. It’s fine if that means exploring different avenues until one finds what they seek out of this mutually shared passion.

Where In The World?…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Resonance’ – Apps used: Lomora 2, Camera+,Photo fx, Addlib, ScratchCam FX, Filterstorm


JC – Do you think it’s country specific, are some nations more clued up?

AK – I take great pleasure in viewing works from around the world, and in observing the cultural differences that are reflected in those works. While creativity isn’t limited to any region, iPhone availability and local finances might well limit the participation of some.

iPhone 5…


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Thoughts come clearly while one walks’ – Apps used: Hipstamatic (John S, BlacKeys SuperGrain), Filterstorm


JC – What do you hope for in the iPhone 5?

AK – I am enjoying the 4S greatly, so don’t worry much about the advent of the iPhone 5. That said, I’d certainly not complain were Apple to further improve the quality of the optics or increase the size of the sensor. Longer battery life per charge would also be a blessing.



Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Wako Bell’ – Apps used: Camera+, Photo fx, Filterstorm


JC – What do you think of Joanne and theappwhisperer.com?

AK – I wish I could claim to know Joanne better, but am impressed by the drive, dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism she demonstrates in running the site and dealing with so many folks in the community. The site has grown into a wonderful resource for information about the medium, the apps on the market, and the people who are using the hardware and software we all enjoy viewing. I’d also like to thank Joanne for inviting me to participate in this series.

JC – Believe me Alan, the pleasure is all mine, thank you.

Contact Details For Alan


Copyright Image – Alan Kastner – ‘Okami’ – Apps used: Slow Shutter Cam, Photo fx, Dynamic Light, ScratchCam FX, Filterstorm

If you would like to contact Alan, we have included his details below:

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/transistorwallah/
IPA: http://www.iphoneart.com/tabiwallah
Tumblr: http://tabiwallah.tumblr.com/
EYE’EM: http://www.eyeem.com/streams/show/user:3898
500px: http://500px.com/AlanKastner
Instagram: wallah
Twitter: @tabiwallah

Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website— TheAppWhisperer.com— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - TheAppWhispererPrintSales.com has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]


  • carlein


    Alan, you, your work and the way you look at the world are a constant inspiration for me. A great read about an effin’ great iPhoneographer!! (and i am more than happy to see our collaboration “Resonance” in the interview!! 🙂 )

  • alan kastner

    Thank you, Carlein! The feeling is mutual and I was proud to include ‘Resonance’ among the works I chose for this feature. 🙂

  • Jack Webb

    Congrats, Alan. Your inspiring work deserves recognition. The interview was quite good and enlightening. Thank you, Joanne, for perhaps broadening the audience that Alan so richly deserves.

    • alan kastner

      Hi, Jack. Thank you for the good cheer and the support you’ve shown me. I really appreciate it. There’s a second interview to follow as part of this site’s Extension of the ‘I’ series, and I regret to inform you that I go on quite a bit more in that one. 🙂 Cheers!

  • Rudy Vogel

    Great interview Alan! So nice to see your incredible work here as well! Bravo.

    • alan kastner

      Hey, Rudy. I tell ya, it ain’t no easy act following The Renaissance Man in this series. 🙂 I dug your interview as well! … I saved many of my more flamboyant images for the second installment, but am a happy camper if you and other folks liked what they saw and read here. Thanks!

    • alan kastner

      Thanks, Veevs! If you haven’t overdosed yet, check out the second installment when it drops. Many more Slow Shutter shots (and others) in that one. 🙂

  • James Ephraums

    I very much enjoyed getting to know more about Alan, and the portfolio of work presented here illustrated his talents more vividly than my memory+Flickr had achieved! Great work! 🙂

    • alan kastner

      JayJay! Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for your kind words. You have been a major source of encouragement, support and inspiration to me since the days I first joined Flickr, and I’ve always valued these things as well as our interaction highly. … I selected and arranged the images you see here in hopes that they fit the flow of the interview and my responses. That includes at least three recent B&W photos that I haven’t (yet?) posted on Flickr. The set I’ve chosen for the second installment is quite different. 😉

    • alan kastner

      Thanks much, Sean. I had fun capturing that photo as one my first test shots to see how well the 4S performed in the dark. The shop is on a tiny street with next to no lighting other than one dim bulb above the ‘noren’ (curtain) and the small lamp behind the black sign. Enjoying the “one chance to get it right” approach, I shot only a single frame.

    • alan kastner

      Yes, it’s interesting to ponder the changes that occur over the course of 40 years; and the things that remain the same.